Developer eyes rezoning to build 250 units on Empire Boulevard

Bridges Development and Adjmi brothers plan Brooklyn apartments, retail

Developer Eyes Rezoning To Build Brooklyn Tower
Alex Adjmi with rendering of 73-99 Empire Boulevard (GOSO NYC, Getty)

A developer wants to transform a long-neglected corner lot on Brooklyn’s Empire Boulevard into a mixed-use development with affordable housing.

Manhattan-based Bridges Development Group has submitted preliminary plans for a 13-story, 250,000-square-foot residential building with three levels of retail to the Department of City Planning, marking the typical first step in the rezoning process.

The project at 73-99 Empire Boulevard would include about 250 studio to three-bedroom apartments, more than half of them affordable, Bridges’ Michael Berfield said. The 90,000-square-foot retail portion of the project, on the border of Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, would also include a grocery.

“The community has been focused on affordable housing and more affordable grocery stores,” Berfield said. “It’s a project that checks a lot of boxes in what the community is looking for and as developers what we’re comfortable working with.”

Bridges, along with a group of investors that includes Harry and Alex Adjmi’s A & H Acquisitions, is hoping the city will provide some of the financing for the project, Berfield said. The plan would also require rezoning from commercial to mixed commercial and residential.

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The next step would be a formal application through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which ends in a vote by the City Council. The project lies in the district of council member Crystal Hudson; historically, the Council follows the local member’s vote.

Hudson pulled the plug on another Crown Height Development last month when she asked colleagues not to approve any private rezoning applications in an area that she and the Adams administration plan to rezone. This development lies outside that area. 

“We have been in discussions with Crystal Hudson and local community groups to tweak and fit the design to line up more with what they’ve been asking for,” Berfield said.

Hudson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The development group, under the name Empire Holdings LLC, purchased the property in 2021 for $15 million, according to public records. It took out a $10 million loan the same month from Signature Bank. A Blackstone venture took over the loan after the bank failed.

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